John Quincy Adams said it best, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” While these are impeccable words for those in leadership positions to live by, how can one identify ways in which to inspire others? Many individuals in leadership roles find it difficult to understand the essentials necessary to be a “leader.” Fortunately for you, we have developed seven steps to becoming an effective leader.
For a company to flourish in an ever-changing business climate, it is imperative to create new and innovative ideas. A diverse workforce will offer a variety of opinions and beliefs that are based on the different world-views of each employee. As stated by Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture North America “If you have a more diverse set of leaders around the table, you’re likely to have better solutions” (Weinstein, 2019). Fundamentally, an influx of varying ideas will inspire innovation, thus leading to a more successful business.
Get to Know Your Team
There is a distinct challenge in managing a varied group of team members. The issue many leaders face is how to oversee a large group of diverse people effectively. For some, it may be hard to understand the specific needs and personalities of each employee. When it comes to a large group of people with different characteristics, a one-size-fits-all approach to motivating your team simply won’t do.
The difference between a leader and a manager is the ability to appreciate employees for their different personalities, goals, likes, and dislikes. A leader will take the time to get to know their employees, thus realizing their career and personal goals. These observations will help you recognize the best tactics to motivate your employees on a more personal level.
Encourage Critical Thinking
So, what happens if your company lacks the ability to empower its employees to try and implement new ideas? Based on the Society for Human Resource Management, 23 percent of respondents stated that company culture affected their decisions when accepting an employment opportunity (Maurer, 2017). With this information in mind, it is important to ensure that your company has created a workplace that encourages its employees to think critically. This finding was essential for Brian Greenberg of Medicare Supplement Insurance who said, “For a long time, my team ran every decision through me… It was not my goal to slow the growth of my company, but I had become a bottleneck to the progress” (“NA,” 2018). Allowing your team to solve their problems through collaboration will empower them to become strong decision-makers.
Brian Greenberg said it perfectly, “I let [my]team members know they had the authority to make decisions on their own” (NA, 2018). Healthy self-esteem forms from accomplishing difficult tasks— therefore, it is imperative on a human level to encourage your employees to oversee their projects and achievements from the beginning to the end. Urging your team to take ownership of their work will make them feel like an asset to the team, thus decreasing employee turnover by maintaining happy workers. When it comes down to it, delegation and trusting your team will help build a productive enterprise.
Turn Mistakes into Opportunities for Growth
Giving your team independence may lead to an increase in mistakes as they begin to take on new responsibilities. This is another defining moment as a leader— do you want to empower your employees to learn how to solve their mistakes, or do you want to stifle them at the first sign of inaccuracy? Think back to a time when you completed a new task at work— was there not some trial and error involved in producing the final product? How did your manager help you fix your mistakes along the way? Was your managers delivery helpful, or did it make you fearful of making mistakes in the future?
As said by author Rick Gibbs in an article released in Forbes, “employees who fear mistakes may be less likely to take risks or express opinions, leading to a lack of innovation, and good ideas going unheard” (Gibbs, 2018). It is important to show the team that errors are part of the process— mistakes are a by-product of innovation. Reassure your staff that if mistakes are used as a learning opportunity for the team, then they will always be welcomed.
You have an obligation to the business, as well as your associates to teach them how to create more accurate and effective procedures for the future. Always remember that with communication, errors can become learning experiences that improve productivity and accuracy in the future. For this reason, if your goal is to decrease the occurrence of similar errors, then it is imperative to have clear communication between you and your team.
Mistakes can be viewed as an opportunity to improve processes as well as grow your business into a well-oiled machine. According to Raad Ahmed of Law Trades, “enterprises thrive on honesty and transparency” (NA, 2018). Therefore, communicating to team members when an error must be corrected will help the business grow in a positive direction. Expressing to employees when there is an oversight, along with assisting them in resolving the problem, will empower the team to complete the process correctly going forward.
Teaching your team how to solve issues correctly will improve their confidence at work, consequently improving their self-esteem. Self-esteem can be enhanced through increased levels of confidence— thus fulfilling one of the more complex psychological human needs. To boost the confidence and self-esteem of your team members, it is essential for you as a leader to communicate the information positively. Always remember to encourage employees, as you never want to suppress your teams desire to try and correct their past mistakes.
Be A Team Player
Have you ever heard the phrase, “teamwork makes the dream work”? It may seem like a trivial or overused statement; however, it has some validity. Creating a sense of camaraderie among the team is essential to the communication between employees. Think about this, if you were in the middle of a project and had a question or needed an opinion about how to complete a task— would you ask someone in the office that you did not trust? The management team must ensure that all employees have a sense of unity that will invite associates to enlist the help of coworkers.
Leaders can foster opportunities for employee interactions by organizing company activities. As said by Atanu Shaw, team-building activities reduce employee stress, but “…it also gives everyone a chance to bond with each other” (Shaw, 2019). While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, it is essential to the overall financial prosperity of the organization. While mulling over the fee of a company outing, think about the potential for increased productivity of employees who have built relationships with one another. Now compare it to an office of individuals who are unfamiliar with one another and have not formed connections with fellow team members. Which group of employees will be more likely to produce more, help one another, and feel comfortable pitching new ideas? The employees who have been given the opportunity to develop work relationships and friendships with colleagues are bound to produce more.
Implement Corporate Social Responsibility
One significant aspect that sets managers apart from leaders is the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts by the business. There are many ways to fulfill this leadership task such as becoming more sustainable, volunteering, or giving back to various charities and organizations. Nowadays the environmental and social efforts put forth by businesses are taken into consideration when employees decide where they choose to apply.
Primarily, the CSR efforts of an organization are now thought to be tied to the company’s values— this phenomenon is considered part of the corporate culture. As a leader, it is vital to instill the company’s philosophies through the values that the business considers to be important. For this reason, CSR efforts are an essential way to define the company’s culture.
To Sum It Up
Knowledge is a fantastic tool to store in your arsenal, but without action, the experience is meaningless. Therefore, finding new methods to perfect your management style may require some struggle along the way. Regardless of how daunting this trial and error process may sound, remind yourself of the following quote. As stated by John C. Maxwell, “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” While managers may delegate— leaders will take the time to explain, teach and motivate their employees.
Lastly, it’s time to ask yourself, are you a manager or a leader? What do you want for your employees, as well as the overall business? Make it your goal to create a company culture that empowers your team to grow their talents, thus elevating your business to new heights. Your team will lead you to victory— how do you plan to lead them?
Gibbs, Rick (2018). Embracing Failure in Order to Create Growth Opportunities. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/10/23/embracing-failure-in-order-to-create-growth-opportunities/#4e1c69c67dbf
Maurer, Roy (2017). Candidates Choose Jobs Because of Company Culture. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/candidates-choose-jobs-company-culture.aspx
Shaw, Atanu (2018). How to Improve Productivity for Yourself And Your Team This Summer. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/08/07/how-to-improve-productivity-for-yourself-and-your-team-this-summer/#59d665418eae
Weinstein, Bruce (2019). Why the North American Leader of This $41 Billions Company Says Workplace Diversity Boosts Business. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceweinstein/2019/01/31/why-the-north-american-leader-of-this-35-billion-company-says-workplace-diversity-boosts-business/#571608d964a0
Strong Communication Strong Company: How To Advocate Workplace Culture And Strategy. (2018, October 8). Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/10/08/strong-communication-strong-company-how-to-advance-workplace-culture-and-strategy/#47f8c7504946